The outdoors has special meaning to me. I caught my first fish at age 4 and shot my first duck at age 9. Nearly four decades later I still get excited when I get to spend any time outdoors. A lot has changed during that time but the anticipation and experiences are still similar and just as exciting. It’s a great place to be....Read More

Friday, December 9, 2016


It's often said timing is everything.  While that's true in life, it's also true in the outdoors as well. Sometimes the timing is good and everything works out and other times not so much.  I recently encountered a close-but-no-cigar timing issue on a rifle deer hunt.

I wasn't the one hunting, actually, but I was assisting my soon to be son-in-law, Jake, with his first deer hunting season.  He was successful taking a doe with a crossbow earlier in the year and we'd been working on trying to get him a buck when rifle season came along and we broke out my trusty Remington 30-06.

Jake's off work on Tuesdays so we decided to hunt both morning and evening.  The morning hunt was a bit brisk, okay it was downright cold, with a 20-some degree temperature and 20 mph north wind. We sat for about 3 hours near a bedding area with the only sighting being a doe and fawn that sauntered within 25 yards of our ground blind.

We used another pop-up ground blind for the evening hunt and placed it at the edge of a bean field bordered by timber on three sides.  It was an ideal setting and I liked our odds for seeing and even killing a deer.  The wind died and it got eerily quiet and still.  We were entertained by squirrels expressing their displeasure with our presence, some sitting and scolding us just a few feet away.  One climbed the tree above our blind and seemingly purposefully dropped twigs and acorns on our blind.  I whispered aloud I'd be back this summer to even the score and Jake chuckled.

As we got closer to sunset at 5:06 p.m. we still hadn't seen any deer and I was surprised.  Finally, at 5:16 Jake whispered he saw a deer in the tree row to our left.  Another deer was with it and a doe and a fawn slowly fed out into the field over the next 15 minutes or so.  Jake kept a watchful eye on them hoping a buck would follow.

The doe got far enough out into the field she either saw us moving inside the blind, or realized our blind hadn't been there before.  She started the usual doe 2-step stomp and head-bob routine and worked her way in until she was standing broadside at 16 yards with the fawn just behind her.

"Do you think you could hit that one?" I whispered to Jake.

"I think I could hit it with a rock!" he laughed.

Jake was amused by her antics and our attention had been solely on her as she got close and daylight quickly faded.  He was watching her with binoculars when the fawn bolted and the doe blew a warning and followed it back across the field.

"There's a BIG buck!" Jake whispered loudly as he watched their retreat.

I glanced at my watch and it was 5:35 p.m.

"Get your gun up," I instructed.  "We've got less than a minute!"

I got my binoculars focused just in time to see the doe and fawn reach the buck standing at the edge of the woods and he turned tail to run with them.  I bleated loudly trying to get him to stop.  He was a nice one and I would have loved for Jake to shoot it but in just a few bounds he cut left into the timber never offering a shot.

"He's gone, Jake," I said dejectedly.  

"That was cool!" was his reply.

Jake had enjoyed the show and shenanigans of the antlerless deer.  He'd never seen anything like it and he might have been as excited about the close encounter with a nice buck than some hunters are when they actually shoot one.

We'd hunted nearly 6 1/2 hours that day and our opportunity came down to the last 60 seconds of legal shooting time.  It didn't work out but we'll be back at it again this weekend trying once again. Timing is everything and here's hoping it works out in Jake's favor this time.  

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